The Horror. The Blank Page.

Posted on Feb 15, 2015

The Horror. The Blank Page.

terrified blank

The blank page. Empty, oddly silent. It is both a  terrifying place, yet a place of possibility.

Depending on what you’re writing,  the blank page can be fun or a total freak out. It is especially hard when you are writing a memoir or writing stories that are personal.  The closer you get to the private moments the more you might fear what people think, but it’s in the private moments that you tap into a universal place for all of us to relate to.

Your job as a writer is to let it all out. Your stories might seem frivolous or mundane to you, but everyone is dying for the details, the gore, the happiness, the hard times, and the fun times.  We all want to hear a good story.

Writers know it’s not an easy road, but it’s a good one.

Here’s the trick. Don’t feel obligated to tell “the truth” in a factual or general way. Instead tell “a truth” in a way that elicits feeling. Sometimes the truth, told in a simple factual nature is a little boring. What readers really want is to go inside your heart to understand the feelings you felt during the experience, not just the events themselves.

For instance: “The Truth”:

“Me and my husband drove to Olympic National Forest and we walked about a mile through a path filled with big trees. The path ended at the beach on the pacific coast where we hiked over some downed trees onto the shore. We sat in the sun. It was great.”

(yawn.)

Now here’s the truth and “a truth” combined:

“My husband and I drove to Olympic National Forest in silence. It was a 6-hour drive from Spokane. I was thinking about divorce since our lives had become the lives of two strangers in one room. The sound of the tires seemed deafening. I wanted to jump out the window.  It was our two-week vacation, but this time, for us, it was a journey to find ourselves. We landed, parked, and got our gear. We followed the path through woods. I looked up at the temple of big trees in front of us. We smiled together for the first time in months. There was still magic in us and I think I owe it to the trees for bringing us back to feeling love. When we got to the shore we took off our packs and laid in the sun to relax.”

(Okay, maybe a little too romantic, but I think you get the picture.)

Remember this:  your first draft is never the last draft. Have fun with it and don’t forget to write about the feelings you have behind the details.

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